Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wild Horses Found Starving on Nebraska Ranch



Contacts: John Holland


Vicki Tobin


Plan emerging for mustangs from 3-Strikes Ranch

CHICAGO, (EWA) – In recent weeks, the tragic extent of problems at Jason Meduna’s 3-Strikes Ranch in Nebraska has unfolded. The sprawling facility, whose mission statement said they were “dedicated to working with the BLM and BLM three-striker horses”, was found to be littered with starving and dead horses. “Three-striker” is a reference to horses at risk of unrestricted sale (slaughter) under the Burn’s amendment that removed protections from older horses that had been offered for adoption by BLM three times.

Jerry Finch of Habitat for Horses, was one of the first people to arrive on site in Nebraska. Upon learning the extent of the problem, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), immediately sent fifteen people from around the country. All reports indicate that Emergency Services group has done a stellar job. Finch says he is thankful to all the volunteers, rescue organizations and local officials who are assisting and for the outpouring of concern for the horses.

Now, with the surviving horses safely removed to the local fair grounds, equine groups are coming together to re-home the surviving 211 horses.

The following information is being provided for those interested in helping in the process.

-Not withstanding the claim on the 3-Strikes web site that it was charging a $500 intake fee so that all horses could be gentled before allowing them to “roam free”; rescue workers on site indicate that most of the horses are completely wild.

Jerry Finch therefore warns that these horses will therefore require special facilities and handling until they can be gentled enough for transfer to ordinary horse owners.

-Any individuals wanting to adopt or claim a horse must contact either Michelle Conner at 719.651.3662 or Hilary Wood at 719.481.1490. Michelle and Hilary are from Front Range Equine Rescue and will be handling all the release and adoption paperwork.

-HSUS has indicated that they will remain engaged as long as they are needed. They are providing the current medical needs but a long-term plan must be developed. The horses have all been evaluated and a major issue is lice and particularly, tics. Some of the horses are bald, due to infestations.

-Hay is in good supply and additional volunteers are not needed at this time.

-The duration of allowed stay at the fairgrounds is under discussion, but assurances have been given that the Rodeo grounds may be used through May 9th.

-Anyone with information on potential long-term homing facilities should contact Jerry Finch at 409-682-6621

In an ironic coincidence, The Restore Our American Mustangs (ROAM) Act, HR 1018, introduced by Congressmen Nick Rahall and Raul Grijalva, will be considered before the full Committee on Natural Resources on Wednesday, April 29th at 10:00am (EST). The act would reverse the “three strikes” legislation for which the ranch is named. We are hopeful that this will result in the swift scheduling of a floor vote before the House of Representatives.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Beef - Not Horses - Still What's For Dinner



John Holland


Vicki Tobin


Beef: It’s still what’s for dinner

CHICAGO, (EWA) – Horse slaughter advocates have recently thrown their misinformation campaign into high gear. In an attempt to solicit support by any means necessary, they are now feeding Congress outright lies on what the passage of the Federal Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2009, HR 503 and S 727, will mean. The legislation could not be more clear in its intent: an end to horse slaughter. It is not, as recently asserted, an act to criminalize horse meat.

More importantly, the legislation is absolutely, unequivocally, indisputably, not the beginning of a vegetarian led effort to end animal agriculture in this country. Such claims are, in the jargon of animal agriculture, just plain hogwash.

Wyoming State Representative, Sue Wallis has teamed up with a special interest group and has become the go to lobbyist for the pro-slaughter campaign. In an “Informational” paper, that rivals the length of the recent stimulus package, Wallis missed her calling as a fiction writer.

And why is this special interest group, a 501(C)3, currently fundraising to “assemble a political war chest” to fund Wallis’ travels in what would appear to be a violation of Article 3 of Wyoming’s constitution? We urge the Wyoming legislature to convene an ethics investigation of Wallis’ highly suspect activities on behalf of the horsemeat industry.

What is readily apparent is that slaughter advocates are glaringly lacking in factual information. Their arguments, when exposed to critical examination, fall apart like the succulent beef of a well cooked roast. They have escalated efforts to scare the livestock industry into believing that ending horse slaughter is the first step to banning the slaughter of livestock. The shallow thinking exposed by this argument totally ignores the millions of beef, pork and chicken eaters who are revolted by the prospect of killing a non-food animal such as a horse or dog for profit.

Supporters of ending slaughter are portrayed as tree hugging vegans and PETA crazies that are on a mission to take away everyone’s hamburgers. The entire premise of Representative Wallis’ dissertation on horses as a food source is negated by the fact that horses are not classified as food animals by the USDA and are in fact classified by the FDA as companion animals.

Sue Wallis and the meat business she hawks like a carnival barker want to create a market for horse meat in this country. Wallis, and the group she lobbies with, has even created a survey that is being sent only to carefully selected individuals that have registered on a pro slaughter web site. Undoubtedly, the results will be published as the voice of Americans and sent to our Congress even though only one side of the issue has been polled.

Ms. Wallis goes on to use the same property rights arguments that slave owners used unsuccessfully to stop the government from freeing their “property”. She argues that owners have the right to dispose of their “property” in any manner they choose, oblivious to disposal laws on appliances, cars, computer equipment, toxic waste materials and in some areas, horses. Wallis cannot change history any more than she can change the grim reality of horse slaughter.

In survey after survey, more than 70 percent of the American public has gone on record saying they don’t want horse slaughter. Congressman Conyers and Senator Landrieu, who introduced the federal legislation, are respected legislators that have been elected to multiple terms. Neither could be remotely considered tree hugging, vegans out to ban livestock slaughter. Conyers comes from a state where Midwestern beef is revered. Landrieu hails from Louisiana, and anybody knows that if something moves in that state it will likely end up in a pot to make a spicy Creole dish. Radical vegans? Hardly!

With rare exception, equine welfare advocates are meat eaters. Ending horse slaughter is not going to take away our hamburgers, sausage, chops and steaks. If anything, it would be a great opportunity for the livestock industry to start promoting our beef overseas.

We urge Congress for the swift passage of the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act and not be swayed by desperate attempts to link it to an imaginary vegan agenda.

And American Beef? It’s still what’s for dinner.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Interview With a Horse Slaughterer

Here is an excerpt from Gail Eisnitz's book "Slaughterhouse" when she interviews a slaughterhouse employee. This is difficult to read.

If this testimony doesn’t horrify you, I don’t know what would. I do know that it is totally unacceptable to me that horses be killed this way. This goes beyond inhumane.

Chapter 11, Gail A. Eisnitz went to the state pen to talk with a former horse slaughterer that was
doing time.

Steve Parrish finally entered and was directed to where I was seated.

Parrish, a compact, graceful African American in his early thirties, crossed the room with a slow,
confident gait. He sat down across from me, smiled, then asked- as if he were actually interested-
how I was doing. I wanted to establish a good rapport, so we talked for a while about life in
general, his specifically.

He had worked in slaughterhouses ever since he was a teenager. He didnt say much about his
life in Chicago's streets, the dangerous crowd he ran with- or how he'd landed in jail this time.
I asked him what kind of horses were slaughtered at the plants where he'd worked.
"Belgians, Arabians, little ponies- all kinds. Long as it's a horse. Stolen horses, too"
"Stolen?" I asked. Lately at my job, I'd been getting a lot of complaints about horses that had
been stolen from their owners and sold to slaughterhouses. Horse theft for slaughter seemed to
be on the increase.

"Guys with their own trucks, they'd steal horses and bring them for us to kill and sell," he replied.

"This one guy- I know him pretty well- he told me it's good money, stealing horses. Said I got lots of
experience with horses, would I like to go with him sometime and steal some. I told him I'm not
really into that."

"Where would he steal them from?" I asked.

"A lot of people own little farms they don't live on," he said, "just places where they hold horses
and feed them. Pet horses, riding horses in good condition, some of them young. These guys
would bring them in at night. We didn't have no night shift then. The boss needed more meat to
ship to Belgium. We'd stay over after the USDA doc left, or go back in the middle of the night. The
boss would have the accountant put an extra bonus on our checks, twenty dollars for each horse.
We'd kill anything from thirty to forty horses at night."

"What about USDA inspections?"

"They weren't inspected."

"And the inspector wouldn't notice the extra horses in the morning?" I asked.

"Everything is moving so fast," he replied. "He'd never know."
"How many times did you do this?"

"Quite a few. Maybe ten times."

"How'd they handle the horses that couldn't walk?" I asked.

"If he's down on the truck, down in the manure, and he don't want to move," he said, "or if the
horse is injured or sick or pregnant, or maybe he's done a split and can't get up- you try to pull him
up by the tail. Or stick a two- by- four under him, try to pick him up. Or hit him with the shocker.
There are times we took a boning knife and stuck them in the rectum till they bleed to make them
get up."

"Does this happen much?"

"A lot," he replied. "Because he's holding up progress. Plus you don't want the other horses to
run all over him and trample him and bruise the meat up. So we'd take a hoist, put a chain around
the horse's neck and drag him all the way to the holding pen. Or if we kick a horse and he is 2D
-downed or disabled- and we can't move him, I'd slit his throat in the pens and let him bleed, cut
his nerves off at the back of his neck. Because you could work with him better when he's dead.
You can bend his legs and you ain't got to worry about being kicked. You can hold him and flip him
and drag him to the knocking box. Either way, as long as we can get him to the kill floor."

"What about the ones who can walk but don't want to go up to the chutes?" I asked.

"All animals fear when they're going to die," he said. "If he don't want to go, if he falls down, they
beat him with pipes, kick them, hit them with pieces of wood, stick them with knives. If he still
won't move, you wrap a cable around his neck and drag them in with the hoist. You drag them
while they're still alive. Choke them to death."

"You've got to have something for whatever situation you're in," he continued. "You can't spend
fifteen or twenty minutes on one horse. You have to do whatever you can to get him in that box to
get him skinned- fast. You can't let one horse stop you from making money."

"See, the thing with a slaughterhouse, every piece of meat is valuable," Parrish said. "Every
horse is valuable. Like, a horse that dies out in the pen, maybe he's still warm. By law, that horse is
supposed to be condemned, cut up, and incinerated. Instead, we put him in the freezer so the
meat can be sold."

The buzzer rang. After the prisoner count, I asked Parrish how the slaughter went for horses who
walked into the knocking box.

"There's a certain way to shoot or knock an animal," he said. "I seen them shoot them five times,
hit them all in the eye. Hit them in the neck. I seen horses get shot wrong and get right back up
and walk around the kill floor, kind of dazed. And they run up on them and just hit them with the
knife in the neck, anywhere, and just let them suffer, walk around bleeding."

"Sometimes they can't get close enough with the knocking gun," he continued. "It didn't work
right sometimes, sometimes the gun gets wet, gets blood up in it, and it don't shoot. The boss
tells us, 'run and cut his throat.' I've seen my boss grab a knife and run and cut its throat."

"What about the inspector?" I asked. "Does he ever see any of this?"


"How do you know? Have you seen him?"

"We all on the kill floor together," he said, "we all watching this. Sometimes he'd complain about
it. But you've got a lot of guys there, new, unexperienced, and they think it's a game."

"Do any of the horses regain consciousness after they're hung?"

"Some," he said. "they still be kicking, they still be alive."

"Does anyone ever get hurt?"

"People get their arms broke, get kicked- I got kicked in the nuts. People been hit by them. And
they beat the hell out of them. I've seen horses get beat with pipes."

"If the horse is kicking, how do you know it's not just a muscle reaction?"

"See, that was my department. I did it so long," he replied. "He'd cry out. Cry and kick. And he'd be
choking from the blood, still blowing out air, and I'd start skinning the head."

"How long do they usually have to bleed out?" I asked.

"The sticker and the header is the same person," he said. "You move so fast you don't have time
to wait till a horse bleeds out. You skin him as he bleeds. Sometimes horses' heads are still down
in the blood, sucking up the same blood from some other horse. 'Cause a horse is so long, his
nose is down in the blood, blowing bubbles, and he suffocates." "See," he continued, "a job like
that, is a job of cruelty. You don't have no conscience. All you think about is you making your
money, you doing your job."

"Sure," I said, "but the USDA's supposed to be enforcing the law."

"But you're moving so fast," he said, "a lot of things slip past. There's times the doc might say, '
I've got to condemn that horse.' Might be part of him's bad, might be the pneumonia's traveled
everywhere. I'd drag him back, and my boss would tell me to cut the hindquarters off and bring
him into the cooler. This meat's supposed to be condemned, but you still cut it up and bag it."

"But don't they have to be stamped 'USDA inspected' ?" I asked.

"He got the stamper," he said, "he can stamp it himself after the doc leaves."

"You're saying your boss had access to the USDA stamper?"

" 'Course he's got access," he replied. "He's got access to anything in the plant. it's like this: if
you a good worker, you do favors for the boss, he does favors for you. You take a condemned
horse, skin him, cut him up, sell the meat in the street. We have sold horsemeat, unstamped, to
people in restaurants, in their homes. We've sold it as beef."

"You've done this?" I asked. "Or heard about it from other people?"

"Heard about it, seen it, done it," he said. "Everybody want a hustle. I had a buddy who had a
key to the plant. He'd go in and steal horsemeat and sell it in town as beef."

"Didn't people know he worked there? Didn't they think it was strange that he'd be- "

"Nope," he interrupted, "because they're getting a deal. He's doing them a favor, helping them
save money. You mix it with beef, cook it right, people don't know the difference. I could
decorate a piece of horsemeat and you'd think it's roast beef. In restaurants, people eat what you
put in front of them."

Parrish looked past me and shouted something I didn't understand. Someone shouted back at
him, and he nodded.

"The USDA man," I said, "did he ever stop the line?"

"If the horses are touching, one getting shit on the other because the line's clogged up, he'd
slow it down a little.

"What about for live animals kicking?"

"Nope," he said. "See, certain guys get an attitude and take off on the horses. You know, you
drink on the job. You go out to the liquor store on your lunch break and buy your liquor and beer,
and we drink while we work. The USDA peoples drink with us. Come to our houses and party."
"But that's after work," I said. "Would they drink on the job?"

"Sure they would. Drink a beer down by the liver stand, where they check their livers and

Visiting hours were over. We stood up.

Gail Eisnitz graciously gave me permission to excerpt her book here on my blog. You can purchase "Slaughterhouse“ at this link:

Monday, April 6, 2009

Canadian Horse Slaughtering Plant Closed for Food Safety & Environmental Violations

Great News for Horses!

Natural Meat – Horse Slaughtering - Company Shuts Down

We are pleased to inform you that Natural Meat Company (formerly Natural Valley Farms) in Neudorf, Saskatchewan, closed its doors in mid-February. No more horses are being slaughtered in that facility! According to the Director of Parliamentary Affairs for Canada, Natural Meat Company was shut down by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for food safety concerns. At this time we are attempting to clarify details surrounding the closure.Graphic evidence of animal welfare violations was documented at Natural Valley Farms in April/May 2008. This footage was released to CHDC by undercover investigators, and the concerns were aired on CBC's No Country for Horses the following month: .

In September 2008, CHDC Western Region Director, Twyla Francois, filmed horse blood from the slaughter plant being illegally dumped on the banks of a nearby river: .

Further Good News from the U.S:

On April 3, 2009, the governor of Montana issued an amendatory veto on a bill that had already been passed by the Montana House and the Senate and simply needed an official signature. That bill was intended to stop any citizen from launching a lawsuit that might prevent a horse slaughterhouse from being built in the state. On April 2, 2009, CHDC had assisted U.S. horse defenders by supplying proof of the closure of Natural Meat Company for food safety reasons. This evidence then found its way into the hands of the governor. As a result of the veto, the amended bill will now go back to the legislature for consideration, thus opening up an opportunity for debate. With such strong evidence of food safety and environmental concerns, to say nothing of animal welfare violations that are inherent in the horse slaughter industry, it is clear that step-by-step progress for the horses is being made. We applaud the Equine Welfare Alliance for serving as an intermediary between our efforts and the many wonderful grass roots groups involved in the state and federal initiatives in the U.S.

Remember the Horses

In order to commemorate the lives lost in Neudorf and to pay homage to the suffering that occurred there, we plan to visit the massive horse graveyard on site--resting place for former pets, race horses, rodeo horses, and other unfortunate animals who, one way or another, were sent to a fate that none should ever have to endure. Anyone wishing to submit a poem, blessing or memorial message for this occasion can e-mail it to Twyla Francois by April 8, 2009:

Your tribute to the horses will be placed where their remains lie...and where each strong and graceful spirit moved forth...away from the pain, away from the crippling fear, and away from the betrayal of trust that marked this final and brutal interaction with humankind.But no matter what has gone before, horses continue to have all of us who defend them. And our numbers are growing. May the equine spirit be the wind beneath our wings until slaughter is ended forever.

Canadian Horse Defense Coalition

P.O. Box 26097

Westbank, B.C.

V4T 2G3

Ph/fax: 250-768-4803

Stolen Horse International


The face of death

The face of death
#396, A kind, gentle Thoroughbred

All that is left

All that is left
I will never forget him...I promise. I am so sorry, #396...I don't even have a name for you...

Why would you take my life? Am I a food source animal?

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Non-Smoking Page